The Dangers of Staying “Above It All”

Is there an “artistic temperament”? Do people of only certain political stripes go into the arts more than others?

Both Brian Niemeier and Rawle Nyanzi have discussed these recently, with Brian focusing more on the traditional Right’s refusal to fight as the Left fights, with Rawle concerned more with why conservatives don’t go into the arts despite lamenting that they have no influence in the arts.

Rawle believes that the temperament is informed by politics:

Art is not immediately useful; it neither grows your food nor supplies your energy. Except for a handful of megastars, art is low-paid. Most artists rely on either a job or on other people to support them in their endeavors; “don’t quit your day job” is a cliche for a reason, as is “starving artist.” It requires the mind to break with conventional modes of thinking and spend much time speculating on bizarre possibilities. Art requires one to focus on emotion.

This is as far from the conservative mindset as one can get.

Brian, for his part, is quite harsh in his assessment of conservatives’ unwillingness to fight:

. . .conservatives are cowards. They talk a good game about standing on principle, but the inescapable conclusion is that they don’t really believe what they’re saying. People who truly believe in and are informed by principles act on them.

I’m inclined to agree with Brian, but this refers especially to a certain type of conservative. The kind that’s probably a midwit at best but wants everybody to think they’re smart, so they parrot what the culture at large tells them is the right thing to think–a culture that is against everything they purport to stand for, mind–while offering some nominal opposition.

This is yet another reason why the “conservative/liberal” dichotomy is inaccurate and outdated, and the real distinction is globalist/nationalist. Great men and women of the past who’d be considered on the Right today fully understood the importance of emotion and rhetoric. Modern “conservatism” feels artificial and soulless in a lot of respects.

But let’s stick with the terms that we have.

Does this all mean that conservatives are at, as Rawle puts it, a psychological disadvantage when it comes to the arts?

I say no.Full disclosure: I identify more with the Right, but I’m kind of artsy-fartsy and have often made my far more practical father wonder what the hell is wrong with that kid?

  • I have tried to make music my career, but let personal setbacks more than financial ones get the best of me.
  • I had aspirations of being a professional artist, preferably in comic books though I did dally with graphic design, but came to law through discussions with practical family members who appeared to my practical side.
  • My politically conservative friends often find me too “weird” for their tastes, and too willing to mix it up.

So I’m familiar with both sides of this equation. Artists should treat art like a business. How do you marry these two aspects?

That’s not what this post is about though. This post is about trying to understand whether the artistic type is inherently political.

I don’t buy it.

I contend that by abandoning the arts, conservatives created this illusion of being temperamentally unsuited.

Plenty of practical, conservative types are artistic. They are just not let into the industries that their ideological opponents control.

Luckily, with gatekeepers mattering less and less, this will eventually prove to be no obstacle at all.

Thus, I don’t agree with Rawle that the perceived leftist tendency to deal with speculation or emotion–or being supported by others!–gives them a “psychological advantage” in art. As we see, many converged, overly political movies, TV shows, and books utterly fail in the storytelling department because of their overtly political nature.

The only advantage I can see, psychological or otherwise, is the fact that the gatekeepers are also of the Left.

This goes to Brian’s point about refusal to fight. Conservatives don’t like being told what to do and don’t like telling others what to do.

But your business isn’t government. A person has every right to treat their own business or organization as a dictatorship. Conservatives believe that the purity of their ideals will inspire their enemies to see their way of thinking.

Bullshit. Verifiable, irrefutable bullshit.

All sticking to “muh principles!” does is ensure that you will be disadvantaged. Unilateral disarmament does not work. As I’ve written before:

  1. Start cooperative. In other words, play a Y.

  2. Retaliate when necessary. If the other side plays along, keep playing Ys. If they play an X, play one right back. Play Xs until they see the error of their scorched-earth ways. If the other side plays a Y, you should do likewise until they play an X. It’s like trying to discipline a small child.

  3. Forgive. If, after retaliation, the other side shows a willingness to play nice, you can go back to playing metaphorical Ys. However, they are on notice that if they mess with you, you will hit them right back twice as hard.

  4. Be clear and consistent. Again, it’s like raising a child: You don’t want there to be any confusion about the rules or the consequences for breaking them.

Otherwise, never fighting back just allows the bad behavior to continue.

It’s Schoolyard 101: the dirtiest player dictates the rules of the game. Conservatives choose the soft narcissism of being the most rigidly principled guy in the room.

This is the real psychological disadvantage. By trying to stay above it all to assure their own egos that they’re the most principled dudes in town, they’ve entirely ceded the battlefield.

Nice job.

I could write an entire post about this, but suffice it to say that conservative disinterest in fighting back led to the conditions where they’re frozen out of the arts. This in turn discourages them from even trying.

If anything, when it comes to arts, I think traditionalistswho understand things like truth, beauty, form, and morality produce better, more long-lasting works that resonate would more people.

Where’s the joy in postmodernism? Where’s the truth, the beauty, the life?

This is the psychological advantage that the Right has. This is why the right is successful when it can get its work out there.

And this is why it can no longer be afraid to fight back.

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18 thoughts on “The Dangers of Staying “Above It All”

  1. A couple thoughts. One, as you kind of said or alluded to, I think conservatives tend to just want to be left alone. We don’t feel the need to force our views on everyone. I don’t see this as cowardice, though I have reflected before that maybe in some cases it is. Look at abortion…even those of us who are vocally pro-life – what do we really do to advance the cause? Do we picket abortion mills? I know I haven’t. If we really believe a genocide is happening and all we really do is vote pro-life, then maybe we’ll have to answer to our Maker for that.

    That brings me to my second thought. I think conservatives tend to be more religious. Personally, I try to identify and act as a Christian before a conservative (or Republican when I was registered GOP). Christianity thrives under adversity and prosecution, even as we suffer and are martyred for our beliefs. Some things are worth fighting for, for sure. But stooping to the level and tactics of the Enemy is an earthly way of thinking. Winning may be all that matters to some people in this life, but the means are going to matter when we get to the next.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bushi,

      Thanks for the comment. And I can’t say I disagree with you…in a perfect world. Think of this though: if the tactics of your enemy–

      a) aren’t immoral or evil and
      b) work

      –is it necessarily bad or un-Christian to adopt them? I mean, we’re not talking about firebombing cities. We’re talking about preventing organizations from being converged, reducing the influence of already converged institutions, and making sure our voice isn’t trampled. I argue that there is nothing un-Christian about that.

      Neutral principles do not work if one side refuses to abide by them.

      Like

      1. If we are just talking about neutral tactics, sure. But most often I see this argument used in the context of Alinksyist intimidation and dishonesty and other such principle-compromising practices. Gotta be careful not to trick ourselves into thinking if WE wield the ring we will use it righteously.

        That said, it’s a difficult issue and I struggle too. Obviously (as my moniker suggests) I do believe fighting is worthwhile. I just think we need to be careful to be true to ourselves and our God.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I don’t think Alinskyist tactics are always wrong though, particularly “Make your enemy live by his own rules.” This is one of the most effective ways to do things. We’ve all seen how effective that works against conservatives, haven’t we?

        That said, your analogy about wielding the ring is an important one to keep in mind.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. It’s cliche, but when fighting monsters…

        Don’t forget Alinsky said that if there’s an afterlife he would unreservedly choose to go to hell. Winning is *not* everything, and sometimes it’s not what we think it is. Christ was tortured and killed, but through that he achieved victory.

        I’m not saying you advocate for this, but what about fighting terrorism? They target civilian centers and noncombatants. Do we then just blow up their cities and kill everyone? We have the capability and it would be playing by their rules, for they’d certainly nuke us if they could pull it off.

        Now we’re not Christ, and I’m not trying to say here that we shouldn’t fight or ever use violence or anything like that. My point is that I’m sure you’d agree there absolutely are lines that shouldn’t be crossed and tactics that shouldn’t be used, even if the enemy uses them. Does that apply here, with conservatives and liberals? I can’t say. But just something for us to think about, especially with some folks floating around proclaiming “conservatism is dead” or “conservatives have failed.” Hey, we’re not living in a Christian theocratic state, but has Christianity failed?

        Liked by 2 people

      4. No you don’t. You raise great points.

        Terrorism is different than culture wars. But the allies did firebomb civilians in Germany and drop two nukes on Japan…were they monsters for doing so? Was a greater evil averted? In a weird twist, does the intentions of, or actions after the attack, by a party merit changing what said attack meant? It’s a tough one.

        I don’t think Christianity has failed. But I don’t think it requires rolling over either. We can–and should!–try to be Christlike, but he was God. He knew the plan. We are and we do not.

        As always, I appreciate your insightful comments man.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Thanks, man – you too.

        As for the nukes, I’ve come to the unpopular (on the right anyway) conclusion that they weren’t justified or “good.” Still, it was and is a tough issue and I don’t condemn the men who made the decision.

        Nope, Christianity certainly hasn’t failed. But I guess my main point is that it’s a long game that transcends the current political/cultural wars and even this world. Saying “conservatism has failed” is unconvincing to me. The world may turn from God, but He hasn’t failed. I don’t mean to compare myself to Him, but just because the country or the world is turning away from my principles – that hardly makes me a failure.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. 1) Nukes: Your take is very fair and reasonable. Which isn’t surprising since I find pretty much all of the takes fair and reasonable.

        2) Conservatism: We’ll have to agree to disagree here. I’d say mainstream conservatism has failed in that it’s nearly entirely lost the cultural battle. And as America as we traditionally conceptualize it WAS based on traditionally conservative positions (limited government, individual freedoms, protection against government intrusion, Christian values, self-reliance, etc.), it spills out into more than culture.

        Has Christianity failed, or has God failed? By no means! He never fails us. We fail him.

        3) Other institutions turning away from truth does not make you a failure, no. Who’s telling you that?

        Liked by 1 person

      7. Regarding 2 and 3, I guess I see a link. Conservatism for me is about certain principles and traditions. The country may be turning away from them, but that doesn’t mean the Left has won a permanent victory or that conservatism has failed.

        I’m not saying Christianity = conservatism, but I think the analogy holds. Has classical liberalism failed? Has democracy failed? The fact that people turn away from something doesn’t make it a failure. Even if conservatism has “failed,” so what? My values haven’t changed just because no one agrees with me anymore.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. To turn the conversation back toward your post, though, I think positive evangelization (I think that’s kind of what we’re talking about) *is* an option to the dirty negativity we see from the Leftists on top. Again I’m not talking pacifism here, but MLK and Gandhi *were* effective leaders who employed principled tactics.

        I’ve said this before, but what drew me to the Pulp Rev crowd wasn’t anti-Campbellian rhetoric. Nor was it criticism of post-Christian art. I find these topics sympathetic, but back when I was less educated on certain topics, such rants may have even turned me off (not because I disagree necessarily but because they tend to reduce and dismiss to a degree that turns me off).

        It was the glowing, passionate, joyous touting of wonderful Appendix N and pulp/classic fiction that hooked me. I found myself digging through Cirsova blog reviews and Jeffro’s Appendix N stuff and thought to myself “hot damn, this stuff sounds cool.” So I sought it out, slowly at first, and here I am.

        Now that’s just me and YMMV, but I’m willing to bet there are other people out there like me. Defending truth is highly important, but I’m a believer of doing so in more joyous way. I write my share of critical reviews, for sure, but I’d always rather read or write a post about something awesome that the writer enjoyed and genuinely wants to share. I think many of us on the Right are doing this now (at least without our little corner here), and we’re creating, too. We’ll see if it snowballs or not, but I think we’re on the right track. God bless Brian and Jon, but I think their creative efforts (novels, blogging, podcasts) help us out way more than playground fights with John Scalzi (joke that he is). That’s my take on “fighting back” anyway.

        Liked by 2 people

      9. Good points. Positive evangelism helps. It is a good start. I view it as one component though. Re: Brian and Jon, I think the difference between them and the SJW set is that Brian and Jon are hitting back, which IS a huge distinction. They did not start it.

        It’s bullies that are the problem. You don’t overcome bullies with the power of your goodness, I’m sorry. If the bully is decent, they recognize that their own medicine tastes horrible and they’ll stop and maybe learn something. If the bully is not decent, then attacking you has to be so costly that it’s not worth it. Otherwise, any gains from the positive side will be lost as the hate-mobs once again converge, divide, and destroy.

        Again, my two cents. If one wants to focus more on the positive side of the equation, great! I am glad because those people are sorely needed. But what bugs me about the mainstream conservative establishment is that they attack their own attack dogs…which the other side NEVER DOES. And that’s how you lose a culture.

        Liked by 1 person

      10. The Left may not attack their own attack dogs and usually fail to eject their own deplorables, sure. But they also eat their own on a regular basis.

        Degree and nuance really matter here, I think. The enemy of my enemy is not necessarily my friend, Milo and Coulter may be my allies on some issues, but not others, for example.

        Should people on our team get a free pass even when we disagree with things they say or do?

        Liked by 1 person

      11. “Should people on our team get a free pass even when we disagree with things they say or do?”

        I’m going to be a lawyer here and say “it depends,” and answer this question with another question: is something that one disagrees with by necessity an objective “wrong”?

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Willingly giving up the fight over the arts has been the greatest disaster for conservatives, traditionalists, and Western Civilization. The 19th century was an era of fervent conservative and nationalistic artists, writers, and musicians. From Dostoevsky to Wagner and well into the 20th with Yeats, yet sometime in the 60s we turned the reigns of culture to people that despise it. I wonder why.

    Liked by 1 person

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